No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood.
British Army Exhibition
British Army Staff
Jessie Mine: This wretched one-way correspondence is beginning to get on my nerves: I can’t stand being so cut off from news of you and Barry. If we don’t show signs of moving soon, I will have to try some other means of getting back to the unit – even if it means hitch-hiking to Hanover. It must be lousy for you too. My letters must take at least five days to reach you, and so you can never know my precise location at any given moment… Meanwhile, there are probably letters already waiting for me with the 9th. Gosh! I could sock somebody for all this muddle.
Again today there was no news of any movement for the tanks… But the searchlights, and their crews, departed yesterday… so something is evidently happening, and we may be ‘un-frozen’ next. Meanwhile, our leisurely life in Paris continues… accompanied by fine warm weather, fortunately.
I have done a lot of walking today, Jess. Nowhere special… but I can’t stand being indoors in this lovely weather, and so I have to go out – just seeing Paris – and the Parisians. There have been appreciably fewer of them about this week – particularly on the Metro. This is due to the annual holiday which seems to have commenced last week-end. Also, many of the shops are now closed and most of these are displaying notices advertising re-opening a week next Monday. They will thus have been closed for over a fortnight. I don’t know whether this “fermeture annuelle” is a normal peace-time procedure with these Paris shops – or whether they are simply taking advantage of the shortage of supplies… but I do know that the shuttered shops are a slightly depressing sight in the usually busy Paris shopping areas. Incidentally, all the big department stores seem to have remained open:- these include ‘Au Printemps’, Galleries Lafayette’, ‘Samaritaine’, ‘Louvre’…
There is further evidence of the Paris holiday in the restaurants of the Boulevards. Formerly they were packed every evening – both inside and out on the pavement tables. But now there are always vacant seats. At least two of these restaurants, both large ones, have also closed for the holiday… so now there are gloomy masses of pavement in the evenings where there was much light and music and human gaiety before. Several other restaurants have closed down, too – but not because of the holiday. They have been found guilty of ‘black market’ trading – and the police have attended to them. There was one of these police raids two or three evenings ago at a restaurant not far from here – on the Rue Richelieu. The whole of the staff were arrested… and all the civvy customers. There were a few ‘G.I. Joes’ in the place at the time – but they were allowed to go after questioning. I wish I could have heard their comments-! I like to hear of this police action against these wretched black-marketeers. It shows that the French government is taking drastic measures to get rid of them:- and official vigilance seems to have become more effective since the appropriate ministry was put in the hands of a former inmate of Buchenwald, a few weeks ago.
We don’t hear much about the Syrian affair these days… but I imagine it will flare-up again – sooner or later. It seems to me to have a distinct similarity with an ‘affair’ after the last war. On that occasion, we almost reached open hostilities with the French… over the Mosul question – and, of course, Oil. But I believe Britain ultimately got the better of the argument – whether by treachery or just plain thieving I can’t remember. I am enclosing a cutting from yesterday’s N.Y. Herald Tribune, from which you will see that at least one American has ideas on the Syrian business. The article is headed ‘Power Politics in Middle East’… You will find another cutting from the same paper… an article by Sumner Welles, former American Foreign Secretary. You may find these articles interesting as they show that some Americans have decided views about Britain.
And now, my dear – I go to sleep…
to dream, I hope.
Goodnight, Jessie Mine